Owning a dog and caring for it properly isn’t cheap. The cost of owning a dog is so much more than just the food.
Before getting a dog, do your research and prepare a budget to ensure you can actually afford a fuzzy friend. Financially providing for your dog is a big part of being a responsible pet owner.
That said, this article covers my 9 ways to save money on your dog. If you want to leave a little more money in your bank account without sacrificing your pets health or happiness, read on!
Neirah’s first morning at home 🙂
First, I’m not here to judge what anyone spends on their pets.
A big theme of this blog is spending money in ways that make you happy. For many people (myself included!), pets add a ton of joy to life.
So if you choose to spend tons of money on your dog and can:
1) Afford it (ie it fits in your budget) and
2) Get happiness from it
go on and carry on being you. I get it. I spent almost $2000 on an emergency surgery to fix my dog Burritos blown ear drum (Read how I got into debt) and regret nothing.
I’m not here to change your mind. This article is more about building awareness that pets don’t need to cost as much as some spend. There are lots of ways to save money on pet’s without sacrificing their health or happiness.
Ways to save money on your dog:
1) Adopt, don’t purchase
If you have not gotten your dog yet, you should seriously consider rescuing. There are so many amazing pups needing a great home, and it can save you thousands of dollars! I understand purebreds can be appealing because people often want their animal to have a certain appearance. But I would advise instead to look at your lifestyle, and select a dog based on that. For example: if you are couch potato after work, don’t get a husky because they’re “pretty”! The amount of horribly matched owners and pets I see is astounding. Neither of you will end up happy. Talk to your local rescue shelter about what you’re hoping to do with your dog daily, and they can help you find the perfect fuzzy friend. Mutts also have less health problems typically, which can save you money down the road.
2) Choose the right dog food
Food is typically the highest regular expense of owning a dog. It is important not to assume “high cost” is the same as “high quality”. Many times (just like with human food) you are paying for the brand and not the ingredients. Get comfortable reading ingredient labels so you actually know what you’re purchasing. For a comprehensive list explaining ingredients commonly seen in dog food, check out the article by WoodHavenLabs. Providing proper nutrition is important long term for preventing disease and additional vet costs. Aim to buy a dog food that has minimal fillers and contains healthy sources of protein. The one I’m currently feeding Neirah is:
3) Shop on discount days & use loyalty programs
Very similar to my advice on saving money on groceries, I highly suggest you plan ahead and shop on discount days. My favorite pet store (HomesAlive for you Edmonton readers!) offers 10% off your entire purchase on the first Tuesday of every month. They also offer a point based loyalty program, so all together I save about $15 for every $100 I spend that day ON STUFF I WAS GOING TO BUY ANYWAYS. When you own a chubby little food loving gremlin like mine, that adds up majorly over the course of a year! Ask your favorite store if they have a similar program, and plan your shopping trips.
4) Buy dog toys at the thrift store
Neirah LOVES stuffed animals. Unfortunately, that love usually means ripping them apart to pull the “fun” stuffing out. She could happily wreck one a week. I try to purchase stuffed animals (and balls) from the thrift store when I can. Take them home and wash them, and they’re like new (until she destroys them). Many pet stores will charge $15-30 for a dog toy, whereas thrift stores are typically about 25 cents. Save your money on something that is going to get destroyed anyways!
5) Exercise your dog yourself
I get it; sometimes walking your dog after a full work day sucks. Especially if it’s freezing cold (thanks Alberta) or dark. But skipping doggy day care or a dog walker can save you so much money. Imagine if somebody offered you $20 to walk on the treadmill for an hour. Would you do it? That’s the going rate in my city for a dog walker, so save yourself that money and walk your dog yourself! You’ll get time to bond, and the exercise & fresh air will be good for your health as well.
6) Groom them yourself
This again comes down to time & effort, but can save you thousands a year: Do all your dog grooming yourself. It’s honestly so easy! I can likely give my dog a bath, cut her nails, and brush her in the same time it takes you just to drive to the groomers. You simply need to invest in three items, then it’s free afterwards.
- A fantastic brush (I love the FURminator deShedding Tool for Dogs)
- Good shampoo (Earthbath is the only brand I use because it doesn’t irritate Neirah’s skin)
7) Swap dog sitting
Whether it’s for work trips, holidays, etc sometimes you need to go away and you cannot bring your dog. Rather than kenneling your dog, see if you can partner up with a friend and swap dog sitting! When your friend leaves town, you take their dog and vice versa. You can easily save $25-40 a day in kennel fees. As an added bonus, the dogs get to play and tire each other out! It will also reduce stress on your dog because kennels can be a loud and unpleasant experience.
8) Keep them at a healthy weight
Much like humans, dogs do their best when they’re active and at a healthy weight. It can be tempting to show love through treats (trust me… I have a corgi cross… she LOVES food) but try to show it through walks and play time instead. Showing love through food is a very human characteristic; your dog doesn’t take it the same way. Keeping your dog slim and healthy is a great way to avoid unnecessary vet costs as well as the cost of the food itself!
9). Create your own pet insurance
No matter how careful you are, accidents and unexpected costs can happen. I personally do not buy pet insurance because I have seen instances where it was denied due to one tiny detail. I don’t want to pay into something I cannot count on when I need it. Instead, I try to put $50 aside monthly for my dog in an emergency fund. If she gets injured or sick, I know I have money available to cover it. If (hopefully) nothing happens to her, there will be a massive untouched pile of money available to me at the end of her life. Plan for the worst, but hope for the best.
Those are the 9 ways to save money on your dog! If you found them helpful, or have suggestions for fellow readers, please let me know in the comments below!
For a list of all posts I’ve written, look here